By Ken Reed
The NFL is experiencing a high injury rate this season. There are probably multiple reasons, including limited training and practice sessions due to Covid-19 and the lack of any preseason games to gradually get in game shape.
But there’s one injury factor that’s been a constant through the years: artificial turf. And the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) is committed to doing something about it.
“The data stands out and the numbers are staggering in the difference in injury rate,” said NFLPA president and Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter.
“We all should be working toward the safest style of play, and we know the dangers of playing on turf. It’s not good for players, it’s not good for the GMs and the head coaches, it’s not good for the owners and it’s not good for the fans. Increased injuries are not good for anybody.”
In a review of the NFL’s injury statistics from 2012 to 2018, the NFLPA found that players have a 28% overall higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries on turf and a 32% higher rate of non-contact knee injuries. Non-contact foot or ankle injuries are 69% percent more likely on artificial fields.
Tretter was elected NFLPA president on March 10th and has made player safety and injury prevention a focus of his leadership.
Player safety is “something that from here on out, I think we need to make a priority,” said Tretter.
“Until we can find a way to get synthetic turf to respond and react like natural grass, it’s too much of a danger to continue to play on and expect different results. It’s possible to get grass in every location, and it’s about pushing for that.”
Currently, seventeen NFL teams play their home games on grass and 15 play on artificial turf. But Tretter says there’s no reason that needs to be the case. He pointed out that natural fields are used in cold-weather markets like Cleveland (FirstEnergy Stadium), Green Bay (Lambeau Field) and Pittsburgh (Heinz Field), in addition to enclosed stadiums in Arizona (State Farm Stadium) and Las Vegas (Allegiant Stadium).
“If we know grass is significantly more safe than synthetic turf, it’s about continuing to push forward and making it a priority,” said Tretter.
“This is about continuing to push to provide us with the safest work environment possible. Player safety will always be a priority for us and for the union.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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